In 2018, Niclas Fullkrug was being linked with a move to Newcastle United. In 2022, he has just saved Germany from World Cup disaster.
Hansi Flick’s side have not enjoyed a great start to the tournament in Qatar. They kicked off their group with one of the shock results so far, squandering a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 to Japan.
Germany faced Spain in their second game on Sunday night – the standout fixture of the World Cup so far. They needed a result, and it was going to be hard to come by against a team that won their first game 7-0.
And going into the final stages, it looked like another loss was on the cards for Germany. Spain were leading 1-0, meaning their opponents seemed set to go into the final game with zero points on the board. They wouldn’t have been eliminated, but would have needed to beat Costa Rica in their final game and hope Spain do them a favour against Japan.
Luckily, Fullkrug stepped up for the Germans. The 29-year-old came off the bench to score an equaliser, to keep Germany clinging on for life in this World Cup.
They now have one point, meaning a win against Costa Rica should see them through…unless Japan shock the world again.
Germany had to rely on an unlikely source on Sunday night. It wasn’t one of their major stars. It was a man who only made his debut for his country this year.
But Fullkrug now has two goals in three games for Germany, and he is a player that Rafa Benitez will remember from his time as Newcastle manager.
Newcastle wanted Nicolas Fullkrug
In the summer of 2018, Fullkrug was not a Germany international. However, he had just enjoyed his best season in the Bundesliga with Hannover.
He scored 14 league goals in the 2017/18 campaign, leading to interest from England. According to Bild, Newcastle wanted to bring the striker to St James’ Park.
At the time, the Magpies had just enjoyed their first season back in the Premier League under Benitez. However, his side lacked firepower. The Spaniard wanted a bigger forward to lead the line, with Fullkrug a candidate.
However, a move was not forthcoming. Instead, Newcastle brought in Salomon Rondon on loan. He proved to be an excellent short-term solution.
As for Fullkrug, he failed to kick on after that 14-goal season, only netting twice in the following campaign.
It looked like Newcastle had got away with one, but now Fullkrug is a World Cup hero. He’s had time in the German second tier and is now flying once again in the top flight, this time with Werder Bremen.
His 10 goals in 14 Bundesliga games earned him a place at the World Cup, where he has kept his country’s dream alive.